COMPANIES

Plymouth's last cheese-maker, Sartori Cheese has plans for growth behind new fourth-generation CEO Bert Sartori's aim to make the 'best cheese in the world'

The family company plans to launch a new product, expand manufacturing and invest in its team.

Alex Garner
Sheboygan Press
Plymouth-based Sartori makes a variety of artisan cheeses.

PLYMOUTH - Sartori Cheese’s plans for the new year will help the company “push the boundaries of artisan cheese,” new CEO Bert Sartori said.   

Bert, formerly president and now a fourth-generation leader of the company, said this year will bring investment in manufacturing operations, employees and dairy farmers, allowing Sartori to continue expanding its national and global reach with focuses on Canada, Europe and Mexico. 

The company, which produces award-winning cheeses like BellaVitano varieties and MontAmoré Cheddar, is also likely to launch a new cheese flavor or product, though Bert said he couldn’t share more details at the time.  

“Our mission is (to make the) best cheese in the world,” he said. “And so, we're always striving to measure ourselves against that.”  

To keep up with demand, Sartori’s Plymouth and Antigo creameries will likely undergo manufacturing and technology expansions.  

Building a “culture of growth” through talent recruitment and retention will also be a focus, Bert said.  

"The reason we want to be growth companies is so there are more opportunities for our team members to move into new roles and also so we can continue to be active in our community and give back,” he said. “And our growth helps us to continue to give back more and more meaningful ways as we expand.” 

Sartori added a 22,000-square-foot expansion to its Plymouth facility in 2021 to prepare for future demand and create more job opportunities. At the time, the company’s human resources department told the Sheboygan Press finding workers was a challenge, with Sartori’s growth rate and Sheboygan County’s low unemployment rate.  

The exterior of the Sartori facility on County PP as seen, Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in Plymouth, Wis.

Bert said adding a lot of positions during the expansion was challenging, and the company offered flexible schedules and in-house training to fill job gaps. Sartori was ultimately able to fill more than 100 positions.  

“I would say we're in a pretty steady state, maintaining what we have,” he said. “Do we wish it was better? Absolutely. But we're seeing good progress along that front.” 

Following advice shared from his father Jim, Bert said Sartori will also focus on taking care of customers and maintaining relationships with its roughly 90 partner farms, important hand-in-hand relationships that are essential to Sartori's success.

"Without the hard work that they do, we wouldn't be able to do our jobs,” Bert said. “If you don't have the highest quality milk coming in, we can't make high-quality cheese.” 

Jim, who was CEO for nearly 30 years, will still be involved with the family company but in a lesser capacity.

“He's really stepped back to be a cheerleader of the Sartori brand on generation four, you know, let me operate the business,” Bert said.  

Jim became CEO in 1986 after his father, Joe Sartori, passed the company to him. Sartori has been a Plymouth-based artisan cheesemaker for nearly 85 years. Today, it is the only company in the city to still make cheese.  

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Contact Alex Garner at 224-374-2332 or agarner@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter at @alexx_garner